PGMA leads World Breastfeeding Week rites

August 26, 2009 10:50 am 

MANILA, Aug. 26 — President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo will lead the nation tomorrow (Thursday, Aug. 27) in celebrating World Breastfeeding Week.

The celebration is intended to pursue aggressively the government’s campaign for breastfeeding in the light of the last year’s National Demographic & Health Survey (NDHS) results showing that only 50 percent of mothers exclusively breastfed for a period of two months or less.

Although World Breastfeeding Week is officially celebrated by over 120 countries in the first week of August, it could be celebrated in other dates to make it a more successful event.

In ceremonies that will be held at the Rizal Hall in Malacanang, the President will witness the launching of the synchronized breastfeeding activity nationwide.

The latest NDHS survey result showed that it is below the 53 percent recorded in 2003, and that only 34 percent of infants below six months of age are being exclusively breastfed.

The study also estimates that the under-five mortality rate is 34 deaths per 1,000 live births.

As part of its commitment to the Millennium Development Goals, the government, through the Department of Health, has adapted the Global Strategy on Infant and Young Child Feeding which included actions on how to encourage breastfeeding among infants and children especially during emergencies and in exceptionally difficult circumstances.

The DOH noted that since the country is disaster-prone, many natural and man-made disasters inflict damage to lives and property. It is in these situations that infants and children are the most vulnerable to disease, malnutrition and death.

Breastfeeding, then, becomes a life-saving intervention providing the greatest protection for infants who are most vulnerable to disease and death in emergency situations. Because of the limited access to clean drinking water, fuel and utensils, infants and children are at risk for diarrhea, the 10th leading cause of deaths among infants.

This year’s World Breastfeeding Week is an international event held to draw attention to the vital role that breastfeeding plays, especially during emergencies. This year’s theme is, “Breastfeeding — A Vital Emergency Response. Are You Ready?” Locally, the theme is “Gatas Ng Ina, Laging Handa Lalo Na Sa Oras Ng Pangangailangan”.

The World Breastfeeding Week commemorates the Innocenti Declaration made by World Health Organization (WHO) and United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) policy-makers in August 1990 to protect, promote and support breastfeeding. (PNA) LDV/OPS/ssc

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